4 Free Money Saving Apps

by Andrew Schreiber 9. April 2013

Mobile PhonesWe could always use new ideas to help us save money on a daily basis. With the popularity of smartphones and the availability of hundreds of thousands of smartphone applications, there are many new ways to save money. We all know the popular game apps like Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Words with Friends, but there are plenty of money saving apps.

GasBuddy (Available for iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry)

Those of us that do a substantial amount of driving can save a significant amount of money by finding the cheapest gas price. GasBuddy allows you to search by city, zip code, or your current location to find the cheapest gas in your location. GasBuddy relies on its users to report the most up to date gas prices. When you report gas prices you earn points which can earn you opportunities to win gas money. Not only is this a money saving app, it also gives its active users a chance for it to become a money earning app!

ShopSavvy (Available for iPhone, Android, Windows)

The primary use of the ShopSavvy app is to scan barcodes and compare prices between stores. You simply scan the barcode of any product and it will search retailers to find you the best price available. It lists online availability separate from local store availability which can help you to decide if it’s worth buying a product in stores or if you should purchase it online. The app also includes coupons to a variety of retail stores including Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Best Buy and Ace Hardware.

CouponSherpa (Available for iPhone, Android)

Couponing is one of the oldest and most common ways to save money. With the growing popularity of smartphones and online shopping, couponing has evolved with these trends. CouponSherpa is a great example of the new way to use a coupon. This money saving app uses your current location to show you which stores near you have coupons available. You can then pull up the coupon at the register and the cashier can scan it or enter the coupon number for your purchase. Not all merchants will accept a coupon on a smartphone and will require a printed version, so CouponSherpa allows you to email a coupon to yourself which you are then able to print out.

1st Mariner Bank Mobile Banking App (Available for iPhone, Android)

Of course we had to throw in our Mobile Banking app! Having your current account balance at your fingertips can help you make smart purchasing decisions and help you to avoid overdrawing your account. In addition, you can pay your bills through the app. In case you suddenly realize that you have a bill due and you are on the go, you can avoid those pesky late fees. Also, the ATM and Branch Locator will help you find a nearby ATM in our network so you can avoid fees from other banks and ATMS outside of our network.

Although cutting coupons from your Sunday paper is still a great way to save some money, smartphone technology has one again gone above and beyond to help us save money and shop smarter!

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The Future of Technology and Banking

by Andrew Schreiber 25. March 2013

Future Banking Technology

Technology is continuously changing the world we live in and how we as humans interact with others. For better or for worse, technology is continuously changing our everyday lives. I want to focus on how future technology could potentially change the way we interact with our bank. Two highly anticipated and talked about products expected to be released in the near future are the iWatch from Apple and Google Glass from Google. These two products have the potential to revolutionize the way we live our lives, including how we interact with our bank, handle payments and track our spending.

iWatch

Apple is developing a wrist watch that will be able to connect to and interact with your smartphone. Text messages, phone calls, appointments and alerts could all be displayed on your watch and you would never have to remove the phone from your pocket. So how can this innovation revolutionize the way we bank? Well, let’s think about it...

We have seen the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in smartphones before, but never in a wrist watch! As you step into a checkout line and go to pay the merchant, you could simply wave your watch over a reader to pay. No fumbling with a wallet necessary. Current NFC technology still requires you to use your phone; this new technology will make the process much more convenient and natural.

But the technology won’t necessarily stop there! After you make your payment, you could have a receipt sent to your watch to confirm the transaction. If you want to be alerted when your balance drops below a certain threshold, this alert could be sent right to your watch. With many of us starting to use personal finance management tools, we could receive an instant update on our current budget after a purchase. The more informed we are about our money, the more comfortable we can feel about our financial security.

Google Glass

The potential of the iWatch is exciting, but in my opinion, not nearly as exciting as Google Glass! Google Glass is a new type of wearable technology that Google has been testing for the past several months. It is a pair of eyeglasses that have the ability to display an augmented reality to the individual wearing the glasses. Like the iWatch, the glasses would connect with your phone and interact with the technology in your phone (i.e. weather updates, text messages, internet browsing, driving directions, etc.) while still maintaining an interpersonal connection to the people around you.

How can this change the way we bank? Well, envision asking the device to show you the nearest ATM and then seeing that ATM right in front of your eyes. As you turn your head, it could show you the ATMs or branches in that direction and the distance they are from you.

Imagine using an ATM at a remote location and communicating with a bank employee through your Google Glass. The functionality of an ATM could possibly be expanded to include transactions and services that you would normally complete in person. Using ATMs this way would be much like a video conference, with bank tellers providing support on an individual basis.

In recent years, personal finance managers that allow you to track spending and set goals have become popular tools. Imagine going to a store and just by looking at the barcode of a product you could see how purchasing it would affect your monthly budget.

This same concept could be applied to large purchases that must be financed. When you are discussing how much you can afford for a new house or car, you could virtually see what your budget would look like with the new obligations. You glasses would show you what your cash flow would look like if you decided to take on the new debt. Seeing this visual aid right in front of your eyes could go a long way to help you make the most informed decision before making a major purchase.

Tools as convenient and interactive as the iWatch and Google Glass could greatly alter the spending habits of consumers. The final decision obviously rests with the consumer himself, but if we get to the point where we have insights and information literally right in front of us, it gets easier and easier to make smart financial choices.

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Is Growing a Garden "Worth It"?

by Renee' Anderson 20. March 2013

Grow Money

It's official - spring is here! As the weather is getting nicer and the daylight is lasting longer you are likely beginning to awaken from your winter hibernation and venture outdoors! Maybe you wandered out to your backyard to find a big empty plot of grass. "Hmm," you think to yourself, "Maybe I should start a garden." Then you start to think about how much work it would probably entail, and you wonder whether or not it would be worth it. So is growing a garden worth it?

It depends on your purpose.

Do you want to garden because you think you'd enjoy it and it would make for a nice hobby?

Or, do you want to garden simply because you're looking to save money?

Figure out your purpose. Gardening is very time consuming and is not for those who don’t enjoy breaking a sweat and getting their hands dirty. Gardening is also a lot about trying things until they work; although, with the internet at our fingertips, you can certainly do some easy research before experimenting.

Either way, gardening differs from state to state (i.e. climate), county to county (i.e. potential predators), and backyard to backyard (i.e. soil composition). So, you can do all of the research you want, but trial and error is inevitable. Why do I bring this up? Because, if you don’t have a certain level of interest in gardening, you likely will not do the appropriate research and will become frustrated with the experimenting process.

It’s hard to come up with an accurate cost analysis since conditions vary from garden to garden. For example, let’s say you plant 6 tomato plants at $1.47 apiece, but you live in a wooded area and deer ate 3 of your plants. Your neighbor may have put a fence up and had no problems with the deer, but how much did it cost to put the fence up (don’t forget labor)?

You see what I mean? There are lots of considerations to factor in when gardening, but the bottom line is- if you want to start a garden simply to save money, it’s not worth it, unless you put in a decent-sized garden (at least 30’ x 50’), and expect to take a money loss the first 1-3 years. In the long run, a large garden will pay off, but it takes some time to get your garden into tip top producing shape! Once your garden has become a vegetable producing machine, you will not only have enough to feed your family, but enough to share with neighbors and enough to can, freeze, or dry/dehydrate.

On the other hand, gardening is a great hobby, even if you’re not saving a ton of money. For me, gardening is a hobby that gives me some exercise, a way to de-stress, and a feeling of self-accomplishment. Since gardening can be hard work, I also find it very self-fulfilling to walk out and see my plants thriving in the sun, and to pick fresh vegetables that I grew myself. It’s also a huge plus to know exactly where your food comes from and to know if there were chemicals used, etc. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh asparagus picked directly from your backyard!

That being said, gardening, to me, is worth it! I might not be saving hundreds of dollars a year, but I’m certain not losing hundreds either, and I thoroughly enjoy it!

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